Four men from the Virginia Peninsula have been sentenced to at least 27 years in prison each after pleading guilty in November to a string of armed robberies spanning Virginia and North Carolina last year.
Dikembwe Akil Jones, 25, Tyquan Demario MacCutcheon, 24, and Armand Devon Mullen, 26 were each sentenced to 27 years in prison Friday morning, according to a United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia news release.
Dallas Cogdell III, 24, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the robberies.
Each man pleaded guilty Nov. 14 in federal court to one count of robbery and one count possession of a firearm during, in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the men’s plea agreements.
Each man admitted to robbing convenience stores and pharmacies around eastern Virginia, including in Williamsburg and Hampton.
Cogdell, MacCutcheon and Mullen are all from Hampton. Jones is from Newport News, according to the release.
In documents filed along with the sentencing, two victims made statements to police about the impact the four men’s crimes had on their lives and wellbeing. The two statements were filed in open court.
Both victims asked for the men to get “maximum” and “full” sentences for their crimes, the statements show.
“I want them to learn not to take the easy way out, and if you want money to work like everyone else does,” one victim wrote.
“The punishment should fit their crimes,” the other victim wrote. “The defendants decided it was okay to run in and take rather than earn. I have no doubt, if given the chance, they will repeat their crimes. They should have to serve full prison sentences befitting their multi-state crime spree.”
One victim described the significant effect the robbery had on their wellbeing.
“My peace of mind was compromised; going through this trauma,” the victim wrote. “It has affected my everyday life. I have a hard time being in public and doing the everyday norm. I’ve had a hard time returning back to work, and having flashbacks of the crime…along with nightmares that wake me up out of my sleep.”
“Writing this statement bring tears to my eyes,” the victim continued. “Just remembering everything that I went through…I’m hoping and praying that one day that I’ll get that peace of mind that I once had.”
Sentencing memorandums was only available for Jones, Mullen and Cogdell, and presentence reports were sealed for all four men in online court records.
In the men’s plea agreements, all four men admitted to five robberies between May 12 and May 16, in Henrico, Williamsburg, Chesterfield, Mechanicsville and Woodbridge, the release said.
Cogdell also admitted to a string of 14 robberies in Hampton between October 2015 and April 2016, according to court documents.
The men were caught by police as they drove an orange Plymouth Neon away from an armed robbery at a Walgreens in Durham, N.C., court documents state.
The documents state three of the men, Cogdell, Mullen and MacCutcheon, entered the store wearing masks and blue latex gloves and demanded money from the registers at the front of the store.
After getting money from the front registers, the men went to the back of the store and demanded money from the safe and a register in the photo section. The men also took a bottle of Oxycodone and three bottles of Vicodin, an employee’s wallet and the pharmacist’s personal cell phone, records state.
The cash and medication totaled $4,814.42 in value, according to court documents.
The men drove off in an orange Plymouth Neon, which the driver and owner, Jones, told Federal Bureau of Investigation agents was the car he used when he “did dirt,” court documents state.
One employee was unnoticed by the men and was able to run from the building and call police with a description of the vehicle they were driving.
When police stopped the vehicle, the officer observed one gun, a bag with prescription bottles inside, blue latex gloves and cash in plain sight inside the car.
During the traffic stop, the Walgreens pharmacist called his cell phone, which began ringing from one of the men’s pockets, reading “WAG RX DURHAM” on the screen, court documents state.
The men behind the masks
Jones’ sentencing memorandum included telling details about his personal life. Both of his parents were enlisted in the military, and his father was abusive to his mother, the memorandum states. The couple divorced when Jones was three, and he had no relationship with his father.
Jones moved often growing up, and began to experience difficulties when moving to Virginia to finish his last year of high school. His marijuana use increased substantially and, after being incarcerated at Newport News City Farm, he started drinking heavily, documents state.
The document states Jones was intoxicated when he participated in the armed robberies.
“His grandmother also relates that Mr. Jones volunteered, along with his mother, at Habitat for Humanity in Washington State and that during one summer he volunteered the nursing home where his grandmother worked in Indiana,” documents state.
Court documents regarding Mullen state he was raised by his grandparents in Hampton because his father was incarcerated for a murder conviction and his mother abandoned him.
“Certainly, the abandonment of both of his parents had a substantial impact on his. And this impact is borne out in his performance in school and his criminal history,” the document states.
Personal information on Cogdell and MacCutcheon was not included in open court documents.
WYDaily archives were used in this story.